Work & Career
17 Things Amazing Bosses Do Every Day
A look at the big and small picture things some of the most successful and beloved bosses do to inspire and get the best from their employees each and every day.
They personalize perks
Randy Nicolau, CEO of office furniture company Poppin, values a collaborative culture and tries to foster it with this interesting quarterly bonus plan: “When you’re scaling quickly and hiring to keep pace, encourage employees to continue caring and connecting with each other. That’s why we created our ‘Nifty 150’ perk, where employees receive a reimbursement of $150/quarter to spend time outside of the office with co-workers.” Check out these bad bosses that you never want work for.
They have facetime
“Don’t just sit at your computer and react to emails,” says Nicolau. “You’ll have better control over your day by deciding when a quick face-to-face conversation will be more effective than Slack, chat, or email. Informal conversations allow you to make deeper connections, lessen time spent on follow-up questions, and set a collaborative tone for the entire office.”
They show, don’t tell
Jen Warren, director of global communications at Belkin International explains, “One of the best things any boss can do is to be the shining example for how they want their team to work—productivity, work ethic, and work-life balance are easily learned when your team has a positive example to look towards. Showing versus telling goes a very long way.”
They define success
Unique Morris-Hughes, PhD, an employment/labor/leadership/career expert, says the most important part of achieving a goal is knowing what it is. “When working with colleagues on a team or project, define and negotiate success—it’s important to understand what success looks like for each member of the team. Although this may not mean the same for everyone, understanding each person’s approach to success will help you manage vertically and horizontally and, most importantly, will help you understand your own work.” Here are some secrets that your boss won’t tell you.
While working for Tesla as a staff product manager, Sisun Lee, who is now CEO of Morning Recovery, recalled the meetings he had with Elon Musk in an interview with Entrepreneur: “I was amazed at how fast he is able to switch gears and how knowledgeable he is about every aspect of his businesses. The first time we launched a referral program, he literally launched SpaceX the same day. We were sure he’d cancel the meeting because we were watching it take off live, but ten minutes later, he was on a call with us talking in-depth about car sales… His ability to change focus like that is amazing.”
They stay connected
“As I grow our company, I travel often,” says Joshua Lybolt, serial entrepreneur and president of Lifstyl Real Estate. “I record inspirational ‘Love Your Lifstyle’ videos that get sent out to our real estate agents at the start of every week. I make myself available to all employees and interact with them on social media. I get to know them personally and take an interest in their life beyond the office. My company also has performance coaches. Since I can’t always be there for each individual as we are growing, our coaches are a direct extension of me. They are available to support, encourage, and provide guidance to our agents on a daily basis.”
They share the big picture
“Show employees your annual goals. Then explain how their specific work helps you achieve them,” says Michael Mercer, Ph.D, a business psychologist in Barrington, Illinois. “Employees feel thrilled to be part of a big success. Also, they love when their success leads to greater job security because the organization is growing and doing well.” Here are 10 more ways to be a great boss.
They extend their help outside the office
Dave Hoerman, “Chief Wisdom Officer” of DaVita, a kidney care company with 2,500 clinics across the United States, is in charge of company culture and looks to foster a caring environment for employees. “We’re a Fortune 200 company and yet we call ourselves a ‘village’ where we care for each other, with the same intensity with which we care for our patients. We offer webinars for parents about sleep issues, we offer college coaching for parents, we offer clubs—soccer club, biking club—and there is an expectation that we all engage in keeping our culture alive wherever we work.”
They celebrate wins
“I’ve always tried to create a positive working environment for employees by focusing on celebrating wins and course-correcting quickly if we are on the wrong track,” says Elizabeth Christensen, COO of marketing firm Tibrio.”I understand that not everyone will find their passion in work, but the least I can do is create a place where people enjoy each other and feel a sense of accomplishment.”
They give feedback
“If there’s a problem in the employee’s work, address the issue with them in person when it happens, don’t wait until the pattern continues or until an employee review,” says career counselor Rebecca Weiler, LPC MHSP, LMHC. “You should also do this with a job done well as employees will do better when their work and their performance is validated. I strongly suggest weekly meetings or bi-weekly meetings to check in with employees so that everyone is on the same page.” Here are the best jobs that let you be your own boss.
They don’t require data for every decision
Pascal Soboll, managing director of Daylight Design Europe, explains that great leaders don’t demand hard quantitative proof right away when teams request money to fund an innovation. “Most likely teams are thinking of something that’s never existed before, so leaders need to except softer criteria and go on gut feel.”
They take care of the troops first
Army veteran and consultant Paul A. Dillon offers this military mindset that carries over into business: “As young Army officers, we were taught to take care of our troops first, if you want them to follow you. An officer has to convince the people under his or her command that they have their best interests in mind, while they are accomplishing the mission. An officer doesn’t eat until all of his or her troops have eaten. An officer is the last to sleep and walks the perimeter of the camp to ensure that their troops are safe and sound. An officer doesn’t change into a dry pair of socks until he or she is satisfied that their troops are dry and warm. Otherwise, the troops just aren’t going to follow you to places where they wouldn’t go by themselves.”
They’re slow to hire and quick to fire
“Successful bosses hire wisely—they don’t let problems in the door to start with,” says career coach Lisa Sansom of LVS Consulting. “And when there is a hiring error, they deal with it appropriately and quickly. These bosses do not move the problem employee somewhere else in the organization, they do not hide behind red tape, and they do not refuse to document. Successful bosses ensure that the team is well-running, and each individual on the team is a positive productive contributing member.”
They communicate clearly
Carlos Castelán, managing partner of The Navio Group, explains: “Poor communications impacts employee engagement by making team members feel removed from decisions and devoid of any sense of ownership. In many ways, poor communication or a lack of communication is worse than the conflict itself because it signals to someone that they’re not valued enough to be included. Poor communication can lead to role ambiguity as well as heightened stress or anxiety because of a lack of feedback, which ultimately leads to talent drain or other symptoms of low employee engagement.” Here are easy ways to build trust between bosses and employees.
They let others outshine them
“Great leaders are normally great listeners,” says Carl Howard, CEO and president of Fazoli’s. “They understand that they do not have to be the smartest person in the room and they surround themselves with great people.”
They encourage volunteerism
Clay Richards, CEO of naviHealth, looks for ways to have his employees make meaningful impact outside the office. “One way we try to inspire and energize our colleagues is through volunteer initiatives, called Days of Giving. Across the country, our 1,000+ employees take time out of their day to give back to their communities through an organization or activity of their choice. We have a goal of eight hours per colleague per year—the equivalent of 8,000 hours. This spirit of giving creates a positive culture and keeps our colleagues focused on the good work they do and impact they have every day.”
They don’t micromanage—but they don’t disappear
Andrew Alfano, president and COO of The Learning Experience, says he is a “big believer in empowerment and assigning accountability.” But, he notes that empowerment can go wrong if the leader just disappears. Alfano suggests “when granting autonomy have an agreement in place for what’s in scope within that autonomy and what the success criteria are, and then be prepared to provide the resources and help needed along the way.” Next, find out the signs you have a great boss.